The West

Virginia lured back to TV
Virginia Gay

Virginia Gay may have the fretting, obsessive-compulsive tendencies of Winners & Losers career gal Frances James down pat but one thing she wants to make clear is that she's nothing like her character.

"Frances and I are very, very different people, I can't stress that enough," she laughed.

"The inside of my car looks like someone has emptied a Salvos' bin into it, I don't like spreadsheets, I cannot add up to save my life and the idea of being in control of organising something makes me nauseated with fear."

In-between finishing up on Seven's medical drama, All Saints - where she played nursing manager Gabrielle Jaeger - and taking up the Winners & Losers role, the WA Academy of Performing Arts-trained actress dabbled in a string of theatrical productions, including her own show called Dirty Pretty Songs.

But it was a burning passion for acting that beckoned Gay back to the small screen.

Since its return, Winners & Losers has again struck a chord with viewers, having consistently made TV's top 10 Tuesday shows, nationally and locally.

Last week's episode managed to hold its own against Nine's ratings-topping broadcast of the Olympics, attracting 843,000 nationally and 106,000 in Perth.

As further testimony to its success, Seven yesterday commissioned a third season, which will begin production later this year.

Picking up three months on from where the first series left off, season two is delving deeper into the lives of Frances and her three high school friends, Sophie Wong (Melanie Vallejo), Jenny Gross (Melissa Bergland) and Bec Gilbert (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), as they prepare to enter a new era of friendship.

According to Gay, the girls have moved on from their years of high school anguish - though teen bully Tiffany Turner (Michala Banas) returns in tonight's episode.

"Season one was about setting up the characters, establishing the friendship and helping the characters make clear what they wanted and how they wanted to get it," Gay said.

"And I think season two is very much about breaking down what we know about those characters. So we're really, really stripping them back and saying, 'You know who these people are, now let's throw them into the worse possible situation and throw everything at them that we possibly can.'

"There will be some heartbreak and a lot of growth, which I think is the really important thing for the characters individually and as a unit."

Among the biggest obstacles the quartet will tackle is the looming baby daddy drama as Bec, Matt, Doug and Sophie attempt to juggle their shaky relationships with their pending co-parenting duties.

After last week's drama-fuelled episode, there look to be rocky times ahead for Frances and Zach as well after she asked him to move out before he had a chance to settle in so she could deal with her rebellious half-sister, Jasmine, who is also living under her roof.

"Frances really has to confront the idea that she has this ready-made family that is sort of sprung on her and I don't think family is necessarily anticipated as she's such a committed career girl and very independent," she said. "So for someone who has a strong need to control all the aspects of her life, Jasmine is a real source of chaos for her."

Gay also hinted that another woman comes into Frances' life to shake things up - and it won't be Zach's domineering former wife Claire (Natalie Saleeba), though she is still lingering in season two. "She really causes some excellent trouble which is really really great," Gay said.

The West Australian

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